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Human Immunodeficiency Virus

HUMAN IMMUNODEFICIENCY VIRUS

Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) is usually spread unintentionally, but in the course of sexual or drug-using conduct that is intentional. Since the beginning of the HIV epidemic, criminal law has been proposed, and sporadically deployed, as a means of addressing conduct that exposes others to, or actually infects them with, HIV. This entry surveys the practical, legal, and social issues that arise in the "criminalization" of a public health threat.

The case for criminalizing conduct that spreads HIV is straightforward. People who deliberately or recklessly expose others to or actually infect others with HIV are said to deserve punishment. Such punishment might have the added benefit of deterring others from creating the same risks. Criminal laws certainly express society's disapproval of the conduct, which may provide additional deterrence through social influence. In practice, however, the issue is much more complicated.

Criminalization as a health measure

The public health case for criminalization is weak. Criminal law can be an effective tool of HIV prevention only if it incapacitates or deters the people whose behavior is responsible for a significant proportion of new cases, but criminalization stumbles almost immediately on a paradox. The behavior most widely accepted as wrongdeliberately using HIV as a tool to harm or terrorize anotheris too rare to influence the epidemic, whereas the behavior most responsible for spreading the virusvoluntary sex and needle sharingis difficult and controversial to prohibit. Both the impetus for and opposition to criminalization reflect profound social differences over the acceptability of homosexuality and drug use, and the clash of values those differences entail.

Sex and needle sharing as crime

In principle, a zone of wrongful exposure to HIV can be delineated in terms of autonomy. The risk of HIV transmission through sex is low enough that a person may reasonably choose to run it, but high enough that no one should endanger another without consent. The consent principle embraces the worst cases of deliberate exposure, rape, and fraud, but also the common sexual encounters (or needle sharing) that drive the epidemic. Research indicates that many people who know they are infected with HIV sometimes engage in unsafe sexual or drug-using behavior without informing their partners of their infection. Women, with less power than their male partners, are particularly vulnerable to unwanted sexual risk.

Although most people would probably agree that concealment of one's HIV status from a sex or needle partner is wrong, there are both principled and practical objections to enforcing the norm through criminal law. Sex and drug use are voluntary activities with known (and rather moderate) risks. They are normally conducted under implicit social conventions concerning disclosure, risk-taking, and consent that may not require explicit discussion of infection. Some contend, on libertarian or privacy grounds, that the government simply ought not to be regulating such behavior. Other commentators suggest that sexual interaction is simply too psychologically complicated and socially unsettling to be sensibly analyzed in the terms of culpability offered by criminal law.

Public health professionals have worried that designating such common behavior as criminal could add to the stigma and social risk of getting tested, educated, or treated. They fear that prosecutions, particularly if they involve use of public health records to document prior knowledge of infection, can rend the fabric of privacy and cooperation necessary to effective prevention. Although empirical support for this concern is weak, even a minor negative effect would outweigh the negligible benefits of criminalization for public health.

Research has largely discredited the belief that needle sharing is a social preference in favor of the view that it is a response to the scarcity of new, sterile injection equipment. This scarcity, in turn, is attributable to drug paraphernalia and needle prescription laws designed to prevent drug users from obtaining injection equipment. It is objectionable on principle, as well as counterproductive from a public health perspective, to deliberately prevent individuals from getting sterile syringes while prosecuting those same people for sharing unsterile ones.

Mistrust is the greatest obstacle to criminal law's protection of sexual autonomy and public health. Many people are dubious of the motivation behind criminalization. Many gay men, for example, fear that HIV is used as an excuse to suppress gay sexuality. Moreover, the fact that criminalization initiatives tend to come from more conservative legislators, and are never systematically enforced, fuels suspicion that criminalization is really part of a larger struggle between social factions for normative dominance in matters of sexuality. Sexually-transmitted disease control policies have historically reflected and been a vehicle for the expression of competing social norms about sexual behavior and the status of women and minorities. On this view, criminalization of HIV is of a piece with laws prohibiting sodomy, or denying civil rights protection to gay men and lesbians.

The behavioral impact of criminalization

The population of people spreading HIV is so large, and the resources devoted to detecting and prosecuting exposure crimes so small, that incapacitation can be ruled out as a plausible outcome of current criminalization initiatives. Deterrence is notoriously difficult to assess, but on each of the leading theories of the mechanism of deterrence the suggestion that criminalization will deter people from having sex or sharing needles without disclosure is implausible.

Rational actor theories posit that deterrence rests on some combination of likelihood of detection and severity of punishment. Long imprisonment is a severe punishment for a person with HIV, whose life expectancy is shorter than usual and whose need for the best medical care is greater. The chances of being prosecuted, however, are so low as to undermine the impact of a severe sanction.

Legitimacy-based theories suggest that people may obey the law because they believe it is right to do so, and in particular because they believe that the legal system operates fairly in setting and enforcing norms. The small number of prosecutions tends by itself to make any one appear freakish or arbitrary. More importantly, the criminalization of HIV entails the imposition of disputed norms of sobriety and chastity upon communities that have substantially defined themselves in their rejection or subversion of the values of the dominant groups in society. It seems unlikely that gay men or drug users will change their behavior out of respect for authority.

Criminalization in practice

Prosecutors began charging people with HIV-related crimes early in the epidemic. Nearly all cases involved exposure to the virus, rather than its actual transmission. As many as one hundred prosecutions had been initiated by 1988, when the first reported decisions appeared. In that same year, the final report of the Presidential Commission on HIV recommended that "HIV infected individuals who knowingly conduct themselves in ways that pose significant risk of transmission to others must be held accountable for their actions." By 1999, there were approximately fifty reported cases and at least 200 prosecutions. Thirty states had passed HIV-specific criminal provisions, laws that varied enormously in the conduct they embraced and the penalties they imposed.

The cases fall into three main groups. The most numerous is comprised of instances of the allegedly deliberate use of HIV as a weapon to cause emotional distress or bodily harm. These cases, which have commonly involved biting or spitting, are notable for the high charges (including attempted murder) and long sentences meted out. A smaller group is made up of cases using HIV as a basis for more severe sentencing in cases of prostitution, rape, and child abuse. The third group is comprised of prosecutions, under the Uniform Code of Military Justice, of military personnel who disobeyed "safe-sex" orders to refrain from sexual contact without informing partners of their infection. No more than a handful of civilians have been prosecuted for isolated instances of unsafe sex without disclosure, and no reported cases involve needle sharing.

General criminal law

Depending on the actor's state of mind, actual transmission of HIV by any means could be prosecuted as murder or manslaughter if it resulted in death of the exposed party. In practice, the long latency period of the disease, and old doctrines such as the rule that the fatal act must have occurred within a year and a day of the death to be prosecuted as a murder, may help explain why there is no reported case in the United States.

More commonly prosecuted is the act of exposing someone else to HIV. Available charges include reckless endangerment, assault, assault with a deadly weapon (or aggravated assault), and attempted murder. Reckless endangerment requires proof that the actor placed another at risk of serious bodily harm with conscious disregard of the risk. An assault is established if the actor is proven to have knowingly or purposefully engaged in conduct likely to transmit HIV. Some courts have allowed prosecution for aggravated assault or assault with a deadly weapon on the theory that HIV, or some body part containing HIV, is a weapon. Attempted murder requires a showing that the defendant purposely or knowingly deployed HIV as a weapon of homicide.

Both proponents and opponents of criminalization have been critical of the current approach of the criminal law to HIV cases. Proponents worry that bad actors get off too easily. The long course of the disease makes prosecuting actual transmission as murder impractical. Cases of exposure are also said to be hard to prosecute. A minority of courts have refused to analogize HIV to a deadly weapon, or have ruled that one or two sexual contacts are simply not risky enough to place another at the kind of risk prohibited by assault. Numerous commentators have pointed to a supposed difficulty of proving an intent to harm, particularly where, as the Supreme Court of Maryland ruled, proof of infection alone is not sufficient to establish the defendant's intent to do harm.

Critics worry that both intent and risk are poor tools for assessing HIV cases. They note convictions in numerous assault and attempted murder cases involving very low risk acts like spitting, biting, and throwing infected body fluids. In such cases, and potentially in cases involving voluntary sexual activity, the unacceptability of the risk to jurors can skew their assessment of the likelihood of harm. Critics also worry about the effect of race, class, and the stigma of HIV on the decision-maker's assessment of the defendant's intent. Convictions of biters and spitters for attempted murder are seen as proof that judges and juries can ascribe a homicidal intent to a person with HIV even where the chosen weapon was practically incapable of causing death.

HIV-specific offenses

Concerns about the inappositeness of general criminal law has long led commentators from across the spectrum of opinion to prefer laws specifically defining culpable conduct among people with HIV, but positive legislation has brought neither clarity nor consistency. Many statutes deal only with specific modes of risk creation, such as blood donation or prostitution. Those that address sexual behavior more generally vary in the state of mind and acts addressed, as well as on important issues such as whether condom use or other safe sex practices can be considered in defense.

Two examples illustrate the range of provisions. California's law, one of the narrowest, covers only unprotected sexual activity carried out with the specific intent to infect the other, and states that knowledge of infection alone is not sufficient to satisfy the intent requirement. Idaho's law covers any transfer or attempted transfer of any body fluid, body tissue, or organ to another by a person who knows of his or her infection or any symptom of infection. "Transfer" includes "engaging in sexual activity by genital-genital contact, oral-genital contact, analgenital contact," without regard to the riskiness of the act or even the use of a condom. Thus in Idaho, a person who has oral sex using a condom but without informing the other is liable to up to fifteen years in prison, whereas the same conduct is not covered by California's law at all. Even without the condom and with a specific intent to infect, such conduct in California would be subject to a maximum of eight years. Absent systematic enforcement, the few prosecutions under these laws have depended upon a happenstance of detection under circumstances that led a prosecutor to charge the crime.

The "extreme case"

Criminalization debate tends to be framed in terms of "willful" or "incorrigible" people who expose large numbers of partners to their infection. An example is NuShawn Williams, who had sex with dozens of women, many of them minors, after being told he was infected. Thirteen of the women were later found to have HIV. Mr. Williams, who is black, claimed to believe that white health officials had falsely told him he was HIV infected in order to discourage him from having sex with white women in the rural area where he was diagnosed. He denied any wish to hurt any of this partners. After public health authorities released his name, he was discovered in a New York City jail. He eventually pled guilty to charges of statutory rape and reckless endangerment and was sentenced to between four and eighteen years in prison.

Proponents of criminalization tend to point to his as the "easy" case: a man, tested and counseled, continues to have sex and infect underage partners with a conscious disregard of the risk. The biggest problem with his case was that he could not be charged with more serious crimes: none of his victims had died, or were likely to predecease Williams himself, while prosecutors in New York reportedly doubted they could prove he had the specific intent to kill required to make out the offense of attempted murder.

If one accepts that he believed he was infected and understood the risks, then perhaps Williams's was an easy case. But this, opponents suggest, is just the problem: Williams's demonic intent was assumed, not proven. For example, his ability to recall the names of most of his partners when questioned by health authorities, which could reasonably be read as proof of fondness and concern, was interpreted by more than one commentator as malignant sexual score-keeping. For criminalization critics, it is Williams's race, class, and incongruity with his rural setting that made him the "easy" case, and not a basic difference between him and other infected people.

Conclusion

Public health programs prevent HIV through the systematic deployment of interventions designed to change the behaviors that pose the highest risk to the population. Although criminal law is sometimes a useful public health tool, as against HIV it has been applied to a small number of randomly identified cases to punish and deter wrongdoing through action taken against individuals deemed morally culpable. Neither theory nor experience supports the belief that criminal penalties can reduce the rate of HIV's spread.

Scott Burris

See also Assault and Battery; Attempt; Fear of Crime; Homosexuality and Crime; Political Process and Crime; Rape: Legal Aspects.

BIBLIOGRAPHY

Brandt, Allen M. No Magic Bullet: A Social History of Venereal Disease in the United States Since 1980. New York: Oxford University Press, 1987.

Burris, Scott; Dalton, Harlon; and Miller, Judith, eds. AIDS Law Today: A New Guide for the Public. New Haven, Conn.: Yale University Press, 1993.

Dangerous Bedfellows, eds. Policing Public Sex: Queer Politics and the Future of AIDS Activism. Boston, Mass.: South End Press, 1996.

Gostin, Lawrence O., and Lazzarini, Zita. "Prevention of HIV/AIDS among Injection Drug Users: The Theory and Science of Public Health and Criminal Justice Approaches to Disease Prevention." Emory Law Journal 46 (1997): 587696.

Gusfield, Joseph R. Symbolic Crusade: Status Politics and the American Temperance Movement. Urbana, Ill.: University of Illinois Press, 1963.

Mark, Gary; Burris, Scott; and Peterman, Thomas. "Reducing Sexual Transmission of HIV from Those Who Know They Are Infected: The Need for Personal and Collective Responsibility." AIDS 13 (1999): 297306.

Stephens, Alan. "Annotation: Transmission or Risk of Transmission of Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) or Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome as Basis for Prosecution or Sentencing in Criminal or Military Discipline Case." American Law Reports 5, vol. 13 (1993): 628683.

Sullivan, Kathleen M., and Field, Martha A. "AIDS and the Coercive Power of the State." Harvard Civil Rights Civil Liberties Law Review 23 (1988): 139197.

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HIV

HIV

HIV, the human immunodeficiency virus, is the virus that causes AIDS, a debilitating and deadly disease of the human immune system. HIV is one of the world's most serious health problems: at the end of 2001, more than 40 million people worldwide were infected with HIV and living with the virus or AIDS. The World Health Organization estimates that about 20 million people have died from AIDS since the infection was first described in 1981. Nearly 500,000 of those deaths have occurred in the United States. Although there is no cure for the disease, therapies exist that reduce the symptoms of AIDS and can extend the life spans of HIV-infected individuals. Researchers are also pursuing protective vaccines, but a reliable vaccine might still require years to develop.

HIV and AIDS

HIV infects certain cells and tissues of the human immune system and takes them out of commission, rendering a person susceptible to a variety of infections and cancers. These infections are caused by so-called opportunistic agents, pathogens that take advantage of the compromised immune system but that would be unable to cause infection in people with a healthy immune system. Rare cancers such as Kaposi's sarcoma also take hold in HIV-infected individuals. The collection of diseases that arise because of HIV infection is called acquired immune deficiency syndrome, or AIDS. HIV is classified as a lentivirus ("lenti" means "slow") because the virus takes a long time to produce symptoms in an infected individual.

HIV Life Cycle: Entering Cells

Like a typical virus, HIV infects a cell and appropriates the host's cellular components and machinery to make many copies of itself. The new viruses then break out of the cell and infect other cells. HIV stores its genetic information on an RNA molecule rather than a DNA chromosome. This is a distinguishing characteristic of retroviruses , which are viruses that must first convert their RNA genomes into DNA before they can reproduce.

Each HIV virion (viral particle) is a small sphere composed of several layers. The external layer is a membrane coat, or envelope, obtained from the host cell in which the particle was made. Underneath this membrane lies a shell made from proteins, called a nucleocapsid. Inside the protein shell are two copies of the virion's RNA genome and three kinds of proteins, which are used by the virion to establish itself once inside the cell that it infects.

Two proteins, called gp120 and gp41, enable the virion to recognize the type of cell to enter. These proteins project from the HIV membrane coat. Gp120 binds to two specific proteins found on the target cell's surface (these target-cell proteins are called receptors). The first receptor, CD4, is found on immune system cells known as CD4 T cells, and also sometimes on two cell types known as macrophages and dendritic cells. The immune system uses CD4 T cells in the initial step in making antibodies against infectious agents. After binding to CD4, the HIV protein called gp120 binds with a second cell membrane protein, commonly referred to as the co-receptor. The co-receptor can be one of many different proteins, depending on the cell type. The two most common are CXCR4, which is normally found on CD4 T cells, and CCR5, a receptor found on CD4 T cells as well as on certain macrophages and dendritic cells. In the absence of HIV, CXCR4 and CCR5 allow these immune system cells to respond to chemical signals, but when HIV infects the cells, the HIV commandeers their usage. In some cases, individuals have a mutation in their co-receptor that prevents HIV from entering their cells.

Once gp120 has bound to both the CD4 receptor and co-receptor, the gp41 protein fuses HIV's membrane envelope with the cellular membrane, injecting the virus into the target cell. Once in the cytoplasm, the viral protein shell opens up and releases the viral proteinsa reverse transcriptase, a viral integrase, and a proteasealong with the viral RNA strands. The reverse transcriptase copies the RNA strands into DNA. The viral integrase then helps insert the DNA copies into the cell's chromosome. At this point, the virus is called a provirus, and the life cycle halts. The provirus may remain dormant in the cell's chromosome for months or years, waiting for the T cell to become activated by the immune system.

HIV Life Cycle: Reproduction

When the immune system recruits T cells to fight an infection, the T cells start producing many proteins. Along with the normal cellular protein products, a T cell carrying an HIV provirus also produces HIV proteins. The first HIV proteins made are called Tat and Rev. Tat encourages the cellular machinery to copy HIV's proviral DNA into RNA molecules. These RNA molecules are then processed in the nucleus to become templates for several of the HIV proteins, some of whose functions are not well understood.

Rev, on the other hand, ushers the HIV's RNA molecules from the nucleus, where they are being reproduced, into the host cell's cytoplasm . Early in HIV reproduction, with only a few RNA molecules from which to make protein, a small quantity of Rev is made. Therefore, most of the RNA molecules remain in the nucleus long enough to get processed. As time passes, however, and Tat continues to instigate RNA production, more Rev is made. A higher amount of Rev protein increases the speed with which RNA molecules are ejected from the nucleus. These RNA molecules, which have undergone little or no processing, become templates to make different HIV proteins. The newer proteins are made in long chains that require trimming before they become functional. One of the proteins in the chain is the protease, the protein that trims. Other proteins include those that make up the protein shell, the reverse transcriptase, and integrase.

After the newly created proteins are processed to the right size, they form new virions by first assembling into a shell, then drawing in two unprocessed RNA molecules and filling up the remaining space with integrase, protease, and replicase. The new virions bud from the host-cell membrane, appropriating some of that membrane to form an outer coat in the process. The mature virus particles are now ready to infect other cells.

HIV's Immune-System Impairment Mechanism

One of the most disastrous effects of HIV infection is the loss of the immune system's CD4 T cells. These cells are responsible for recognizing foreign invaders to a person's body and initiating antibody production to ward off the infection. Without them, people are susceptible to a variety of diseases. HIV destroys the T cells slowly, sometimes taking a decade to destroy a person's immunity. However, in all the time before an HIV-infected individual shows any symptoms, the virus has been reproducing rapidly. The lymph tissue, the resting place for CD4 T cells, macrophages, and dendritic cells, becomes increasingly full of HIV, and viral particles are also released into the bloodstream.

HIV's main target is the population of CD4 T cells within a host's body. HIV kills them in one of three ways. It kills them directly by reproducing within them, then breaking them upon exit; it kills them indirectly by causing the cells to "commit suicide" by inducing apoptosis ; or it kills them indirectly by triggering other immune cells to recognize the infected T cell and kill it as part of the immune system's normal function.

As infected T cells die, the immune system generates more to take their place. As new T cells become infected, they are either actively killed or induced to commit suicide. Meanwhile, the HIV virus is not completely hidden from the immune system. As with any infectious agent, HIV presents its proteins to the immune system, which develops antibodies against it. This antibody production, however, is hampered by the fact that HIV mutates rapidly, changing the proteins it displays to the immune system. With each new protein, the immune system must generate new antibodies to fight the infection. Thus, an HIV infection is a dramatic balance between a replicating, ever changing virus and the replenishing stores of T cells that are fighting it. Unfortunately, the immune system, without therapeutic intervention, eventually loses the battle.

Once the CD4 T cells are depleted, the immune system can no longer ward off the daily bombardment of pathogens that all human organisms experience. Common infectious agents thus overwhelm the system, and HIV patients become susceptible to a variety of "opportunistic" diseases that take advantage of the body's reduced ability to fight them off. AIDS doctors report at least twenty-six different opportunistic diseases specific to HIV infection. These include unusual fungal infections such as thrush. The chickenpox virus may come out of dormancy, manifesting itself as the painful disease known as shingles. An obscure form of pneumonia, called pneumocystis pneumonia, is also common in AIDS patients. In addition, patients can acquire cancers such as B-cell lymphoma, which is a cancer of the immune system. Doctors generally consider patients with fewer than 200 CD4 T cells per cubic milliliter of blood as having AIDS. (In contrast, a healthy person counts more than 1,000.)

Anti-HIV Drug Therapy

Drugs that interfere with viral replication can slow down HIV disease. Early trials relied on the administration of one drug at a time. While patients' health improved and their T cell count rose, in time HIV mutated enough to render the drugs ineffective. Since 1995, however, doctors have found that rotating patients through three different drugs in very high doses significantly improves the health of AIDS patients. Known as "highly active antiretroviral therapy" (HAART), this therapeutic approach also reduces the amount of HIV circulating in the bloodstream to nearly undetectable levels. People infected with HIV who are treated by HAART are now living longer, healthier lives than ever before.

Targeting Life-Cycle Points

Drugs meant to knock out HIV target the activities of two HIV proteins, the reverse transcriptase and the protease. HAART requires drugs of both types. Drugs called protease inhibitors prevent the viral protease from trimming down the large proteins made late during infection. Without those proteins, the viral shell cannot be assembled. In addition, the proteins that reproduce HIV's genetic information, the reverse transcriptase and the integrase, are not functional.

Drugs that inhibit the reverse transcriptase prevent it from copying the RNA into DNA. These drugs work early in the life cycle of HIV. Reverse transcriptase inhibitors include azidothymidine (AZT), whose structure resembles the DNA nucleotide thymine. When reverse transcriptase builds DNA with AZT instead of thymine, the AZT caps the growing DNA molecule and halts DNA production, due to AZT's slight difference in structure from the thymine that DNA production requires.

see also Immune System Genetics; Retrovirus; Reverse Transcriptase.

Mary Beckman

Bibliography

Janeway, Charles A., et al. "Failures of Host Defense Mechanisms." In Immunobiology: The Immune System in Health and Disease, 4th ed. New York: Current Biology Publications, 1999.

. HIV Infection and AIDS: An Overview. Washington DC: National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases and U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, 2001.

Shilts, Randy. And the Band Played On: Politics, People, and the AIDS Epidemic. New York: St. Martin's Press, 2000. Stine, Gerald. Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome: Biological, Medical, Social and Legal Issues, 3rd ed. New York: Prentice-Hall, 1997.

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HIV

HIV

THE DISCOVERY OF HIV

TESTING FOR HIV

TREATMENT AND PREVENTION

THE STIGMA OF AIDS

BIBLIOGRAPHY

The human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) is part of a family of retroviruses that have the capacity of reproduction from RNA in the nucleus of a helping cell of the human immune system. Using enzymeschemical substances in the human organism that enhance reactions without intervening in themthe virus breaks through the cell membrane to the nucleus, where it is reproduced. Infection with HIV leads to the disease known as AIDS.

The origin of HIV is unknown, but it is widely understood that it is a mutation of a similar retrovirus, such as the simian immunodeficiency virus. It is speculated that the virus developed the capacity to infect human beings through the practice of ingesting raw meat or blood in religious rituals in isolated parts of Africa. Even though the first AIDS cases were reported in Africa in the early 1980s, several known cases were before this date.

THE DISCOVERY OF HIV

At the beginning of the AIDS epidemic, the virus was initially called human T-lymphotropic virus type III (HTLV III) by the U.S. research group under the leadership of Robert Gallo. The virus was also discovered at about the same time by researchers at the Pasteur Institute of France under the leadership of Luc Montagnier, who named it lymphadenopathy-associated virus (LAV). Following an international controversy between the two researchers, who both claimed credit for the discovery, the name HIV was agreed upon.

By 1982 it had been established that HIV had caused the destruction of the immune system of numerous individuals, rendering them susceptible to infections that produced a combination of diseases, such as Kaposi sarcoma and pneumonia. This overall disease process was called acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS). By this time it had also been established that the virus was transmitted via body fluids, such as blood and semen.

A number of factorsincluding the migration of infected people to populated zones, overpopulation in certain communities, difficulties in access to medical care, and ignorance of the diseaseled to the infection becoming a pandemic by the end of the 1980s. The first AIDS cases in the United States were reported in the summer of 1980, when the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reported several cases of young males with opportunistic infections and a compromised immune system. The number of reported AIDS cases then began to increase in a geometrical way through the entire world. According to the CDC, the cumulative estimated number of diagnoses of AIDS through 2003 in the United States was 929, 985. Adult and adolescent AIDS cases totaled 920, 566, with 749, 887 cases in males and 170, 679 cases in females. The remaining 9, 419 cases had occurred in children under age 13. At the end of 2003, it was estimated that 1, 039, 000 to 1, 185, 000 persons in the United States were living with HIV/AIDS and that between 24 and 27 percent were undiagnosed and unaware of their condition.

TESTING FOR HIV

There is a test to detect the presence of HIV antibodies. A more specialized test, the polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test, can identify the virus, but it is only used for special cases or research due to its high cost. For the general public, the ELISA test is used, which only detects the presence of HIV antibodies. This test is highly sensitive for negatives, which is why it is commonly used for screening possible cases. But because of this sensitivity, ELISA tests that are positive must be confirmed with a more accurate test, called the Western blot. Both tests are readily available through public health services, and many health community-based organizations provide the test at outreach activities in the communities.

TREATMENT AND PREVENTION

As of 2007 there was no available vaccine for HIV. More than 95 percent of all new infections were in developing countries, making HIV/AIDS one of the most serious threats to global health and global development. Many believe that only a vaccine will stop the spread of the infection. Developing a vaccine will thus represent a huge milestone in the AIDS epidemic, and several clinical trials are being developed in different countries. However, the versatility of the virus and other concerns have made this a difficult task.

Due to the nature of HIV infection and the lack of a cure or vaccine, the only way to address the epidemic is by means of prevention. Primary prevention programs target vulnerable populations by means of culturally and competent interventions designed to help people avoid being infected. Because the virus is transmitted by contact with fluids, sharing infected needles for drug use, having sexual intercourse without protection, and mother-to-infant transmission are the main venues for the virus to be introduced to human beings. Important primary prevention interventions have been developed and evaluated in the United States and other industrialized countries, and these are being transferred to other communities around the world. These prevention programs include education about the virus, condom distribution, clean needle distribution for drug addicts, and peer counseling, and they have slowed the spread of HIV. The basic idea is that by learning the ways the virus is transmitted and by developing personal and social skills that protect and empower atrisk minority communities, it is possible to stop the spread of the infection.

Advances in treatment have yielded important new AIDS therapies, but the cost and complexity of their use put them out of reach for most people in the countries where they are needed the most. In industrialized nations, where the drugs are more readily available, side effects and increased rates of viral resistance have raised concerns about the long-term use of these therapies. Since the mid-1990s, HIV infection has spread most rapidly among women, children, and sexual minorities. Both in the United States and in developing countries, the incidence of HIV infection has had a disproportional impact on communities of color. Efforts at primary prevention must therefore take into consideration the social and cultural context and meanings of what are known as high-risk behaviors.

It is also important of course to pay attention to those already living with HIV/AIDS, with the goal of providing them access to care and secondary prevention. By engaging people living with HIV/AIDS in appropriate treatment, the quality of life of these individuals can be enhanced. This level of treatment will also reduce the continuing transmission of the infection. For this to happen, the human rights of people living with HIV/AIDS need to be protected. This will encourage them to get tested and receive medical and social care.

THE STIGMA OF AIDS

Jonathan Mann, the founding director of the World Health Organizations Global Programme on AIDS, described the HIV epidemic as more than just a biological disease. It is also a social phenomenon that he identified as potentially explosive because it is an epidemic of social, cultural, economic, and political responses to the disease. This social epidemic is characterized above all by exceptionally high levels of stigma, discrimination, and at times collective denial.

The concept of stigma dates to ancient Greece, where it was used to describe persons who had been involved with certain bad deeds, for which they were distinguished from others by the application of bodily marks or tattoos. People so marked were to be avoided by the general populace. The concept has also been associated with an unnatural mark in the bodies of saints, a mark made with a hot iron on the flesh of slaves, a bad reputation, and even a physical dysfunction. Some authors have described stigma as a social construction associated with the recognition of a difference based on a specific characteristic, which is used to devalue the person who possesses that characteristic. All of these definitions share the idea that a stigma is the negative evaluation of a particular difference that may be identified in a person. The stigma associated with AIDS has become the biggest obstacle for HIV/AIDS prevention, because it hinders the possibility of dignity and access to care for people living with the infection.

SEE ALSO AIDS; AIDS/HIV in Developing Countries, Impact of; Disease; Public Health; World Health Organization

BIBLIOGRAPHY

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. 1981. Kaposis Sarcoma and Pneumocystis Pneumonia among Homosexual Men: New York City and California. Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Reports 30: 305308.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. 1981. Pneumocystis Pneumonia: Los Angeles. Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Reports 30: 250252.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. 2004. HIV/AIDS Surveillance Report. Vol. 15, Cases of HIV Infection and AIDS in the United States, 2003. Atlanta, GA: Author.

Goffman, Erving. 1963. Stigma: Notes on the Management of Spoiled Identity. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice-Hall.

Herek, Gregory M. 1999. AIDS and Stigma in the United States. American Behavioral Scientist 42 (7): 11061116.

Herek, Gregory M., and John P. Capitano. 1999. AIDS Stigma and Sexual Prejudice. American Behavioral Scientists 42 (7): 11301147.

HIV Vaccine Trials Network. The Step Study: HVTN 502/Merck 023 A Merck/HVTN Proof-of-Concept Vaccine Trial. http://www.hvtn.org/science/step.html.

Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS). 2003. Report on the Global HIV/AIDS Epidemic, December 2003. Geneva, Switzerland: UNAIDS.

Kalichman, Seth C. 1998. Understanding AIDS: Advances in Research and Treatment. Washington, DC: American Psychological Association.

José Toro-Alfonso

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HIV/AIDS

HIV/AIDS

HIV (human immunodeficiency virus) was identified in 1983 by the French scientist Luc Montagier and his staff at the Pasteur Institute in Paris. Ever since that discovery, scientists have been searching for ways to treat those infected with HIV, and to produce a vaccine to prevent its spread. While new antiviral treatments have been developed, a vaccine has yet to be found. HIV causes AIDS (acquired immunodeficiency syndrome), an unpredictable condition that may progress over many years and is characterized by a slow deterioration of the immune system . Once an individual becomes infected (HIV has infected the target cells) it takes a week or more before the virus is spread throughout the body's blood and lymph system . The immune system responds by turning out HIV antibodies in about six to eighteen weeks. The progression of HIV infection to AIDS may take several years. In the initial period, prolonged (24 weeks) flu-like symptoms may appear. This is followed by an asymptomatic period (clinical latency) that may last ten or more years. When the immune system becomes further compromised, the patient may experience opportunistic infections , caused by the reduced function of the immune system resulting in a plethora of nonspecific and variable signs and symptoms. The condition known as AIDS is marked by severe compromise of the immune system and the presence of one or more opportunistic infections. Some clinical signs and symptoms may include sweating, diarrhea, malaise (feeling tired), anorexia (loss of appetite), weight loss, wasting (loss of muscle tissue), chest pain, swelling of the lymph nodes , fungal infections, neurological disorders, body-fat accumulations, and increased blood fats. In addition to disease-induced signs and symptoms, medications used to treat HIV/AIDS may produce additional signs and symptoms.

Nutrition for HIV/AIDS

In the absence of a cure, it is important to control symptoms, support the immune system, and lower the levels of HIV circulating in the blood. To lower the level of HIV in the blood, patients take a prescribed combination of antiviral drugs . The role nutrition plays will vary along the disease continuum (disease progression over many years), with consideration given to the patient's age, gender, behaviors, current medication, drug history, socioeconomic status , and associated health concerns.

In all cases, adequate hydration (fluid intake) and increased calorie and protein intake are necessary to fight the infection. Proper nutrition must begin immediately to support nutritional deficiencies (including vitamin A and E, the B vitamins , magnesium, and zinc ) that occur early in the disease process. These nutritional deficiencies contribute to decreased immunity and disease progression. Ellen Mazo and Keith Berndtson, in The Immune Advantage, suggest that once the patient has been diagnosed with HIV infection, more protein and complex carbohydrates , along with moderate amounts of fats, should be consumed. The diet should include lean meat, fish, beans, seeds and nuts, whole-grain breads and cereals, and fruits and vegetables. Moderate amounts of fat for energy and calories can be acquired through foods such as nuts, avocado dip, peanut butter, and seeds.

The diet should include each of the five major food groups (dairy, vegetable, meat, fruit, and bread). The sixth group (fats and sugars) should be used sparingly. Patients with a poor appetite should eat six or more small meals throughout the day, rather than three large ones. In prolonged cases of appetite depression, a physician may prescribe an appetite stimulant (e.g., megesterol acetate). It is important to keep all foods refrigerated, to avoid eating rare meats, to practice proper hand washing, and to use soap and hot water to clean sinks and utensils. Food-borne illnesses pose serious threats for HIV/AIDS patients.

HIV/AIDS Complications

Some symptoms will require additional attention beyond general nutritional recommendations. For example, diarrhea will rapidly reduce the water content of the body, causing severe alterations in the body's metabolism and electrolyte balance. Electrolytes may be replaced with products such as Pedialyte or Gatorade. Proteins and calories should be increased to prevent weight loss, and dairy products, alcohol, caffeine, and spicy and fatty foods should be avoided.

A second complication is that of weight loss and wasting. According to Derek Macallan, in Wasting HIV Infection and AIDS, wasting may be either acute (associated with a secondary disease) or chronic (associated with gastrointestinal disease), and is the result of a variety of processes, including drug use, medications, concurrent disease, and HIV itself. HIV infection causes abnormal protein and fat metabolism. During episodes of acute wasting the patient may require a prescription for steroids , to help support tissue maintenance and tissue development, in combination with optimal protein and calories in the diet.

Contributing to weight loss and wasting is malabsorption (the failure of nutritional substances to be absorbed in the intestines ). Malabsorption occurs in advanced cases of HIV infection when gastrointestinal disease is present. Diseases that can cause malabsorption in HIV/AIDS patients include Kaposi's sarcoma, non-Hodgkin's lymphoma, cytomegalovirus, Myco-bacterium avium complex, and cryptosporidiosis. Malabsorption may require an alternative to oral nutrition.

The HIV/AIDS Epidemic

Figures from the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS and the World Health Organization:

Deaths from AIDS in 2003 (North America): 15,000

Deaths from AIDS in 2003 (worldwide): 3 million

People newly infected with HIV in 2003 (North America): 45,000

People newly infected with HIV in 2003 (worldwide): 5 million

People living with AIDS in 2003 (North America): 1 million

People living with AIDS in 2003 (worldwide): 40 million

Paula Kepos

Alternatives to Oral Nutrition

Alternative routes for nutrition must be considered in patients with fungal growth in the oral cavity, inflammation of the gums and oral mucosa , open sores, difficulty in swallowing, and other debilitating diseases of the oral-pharyngeal region and/or gastrointestinal tract. These alternatives include parenteral (PN) and enteral nutrition. PN replaces essential nutritional requirements via intravenous (IV) access. The IV may be placed in a peripheral vein or in a large central vein, depending on the medical condition of the patient and the choice of nutrition replacement therapy. The cost for PN is high, and there is a risk of severe infection; therefore it is not recommended except for brief treatment measures during known episodic cases of acute weight loss and in the absence of gastrointestinal (GI) function.

Enteral nutrition (placing a tube into the stomach or intestine) is preferred in those patients who have difficulty in swallowing, disease of the oral-pharyngeal region, and adequate GI function. The medical risks with enternal nutrition are less than for PN, but may include injury to the GI tract and infection in the absence safe food practices.

Ethical Considerations for Care

It is strongly advised that those suspected with or diagnosed with HIV infection seek professional attention from a qualified physician and a registered dietician. For these caregivers, the development of new antiviral drugs, changes in methods of administration of existing drugs, and new information regarding nutrition require diligent and regular review. It is important for health care workers to keep an open dialogue with the patient, so that they stay aware of the patient's health status and treatment measures. Many issues regarding the amount (drugs and nutrition) and length of care for AIDS patients remain controversial and should be negotiated with the patient.

Finally, when traditional medical wisdom fails, some patients may turn to alternative medicine. There are many questionable products on the market that make extraordinary health claims, and caution is required. These products are often overpriced and marketed with misleading claims, and should therefore be considered carefully before use.

see also Food Safety; Immune System; Malnutrition.

Stephen Hohman

Bibliography

Lehman, Robert H. (1997). Cooking for Life: A Guide to Nutrition and Food Safety for the HIV-Positive Community. New York: Dell.

Macallan, Derek C. (1999). "Wasting HIV Infection and AIDS." Journal of Nutrition 129(1S):238242.

Mazo, Ellen, and Berndtson, Keith (2002). The Immune Advantage. Emmaus, PA: Rodale.

Morrison, Gail, and Hark, Lisa (1999). Medical Nutrition & Disease, 2nd edition. Cambridge: MA: Blackwell Science.

"Questionable Mail Order Products" (1999). Nutrition Forum. 16(6):46.

Romeyn, Mary (1998). Nutrition and HIV: A New Model for Treatment, 2nd edition. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.

Watson, Ronald R. (2001). Nutrition and AIDS, 2nd edition. Boca Raton, FL: CRC Press.

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HIV/AIDS

HIV/AIDS

Acquired immunodeficiency syndrome, or AIDS, is the final, life-threatening stage of infection with any of the human immunodeficiency viruses (HIV-1, its many subtypes, or HIV-2), which are transmitted from person to person sexually (including via anal, oral, and vaginal intercourse, both heterosexually and homosexually), through contact with blood (mainly via equipment used to inject illicit drugs and, rarely, via medical uses of blood), and perinatally (from mother to fetus or newborn during pregnancy, labor, and delivery, or after birth through breast-feeding).

ORIGIN AND HISTORY

HIV-1 and HIV-2 both appear to have been transmitted to humans from primates in Central and West Africa, probably to hunters or processors of carcasses of primates consumed as food (referred to as "bush meat"). Beginning as simian viruses, they became human viruses once they achieved sustained transmission from person to person. This appears to have occurred at least four times in history: three times from chimpanzees (Pan troglodytes ); (possibly in the 1930s), representing the three major strains of HIV-1, and once from sooty mangabeys, representing HIV-2. Social and technological changes in Africa resulted in transmission of HIV to larger and larger numbers of adults as roads were built and river transport developed, making travel to cities, with their better economic opportunities, far easier and more rapid. A silent heterosexual epidemic occurred and spread via travelers to industrialized nations of Europe and North America, where the new syndrome was initially recognized as a distinct clinical entity in 1981, even though the number of cases then was minuscule. By 1983, epidemiologists had discerned the routes of transmission and pointed the way for laboratory investigators to identify the etiologic agents. In 1984, the laboratory culturing of HIV was described in the scientific literature, as was the first serologic test for detecting the HIV antibody, which has been used to screen blood donations since 1985. Originally given three different names by the French (1983) and two American (1984) research teams that "discovered" the virus, the name HIV was agreed upon in 1986.

EPIDEMIOLOGY

HIV-1 has spread worldwide, infecting more than 36 million people by 2001. HIV-2, which seems to be less clinically severe and possibly less transmissible from person to person, has mainly been a public health problem for West African nations. Originally epidemic in African and urban settings, HIV and AIDS are now among the most common serious infections globally, including in the Americas and Eurasia and in rural settings. All ages, racial and ethnic groups, and persons of all sexual orientations have been infected.

VIROLOGY

HIVs are all members of the family known as retroviruses, so named because of their unique method of reproduction which uses the enzyme (protein catalyst) reverse transcriptase (RT) to incorporate its genetic material (RNA) into the DNA of the infected host's cells. HIV infects specific white blood cells of the host's immune system, known as T-helper lymphocytes (often referred to as CD4+ cells), and destroys them. Even though the immune system produces millions of new CD4+ cells every day, HIV destroys them just as rapidly. The genetic material of HIV has been sequenced, providing a database useful for research on vaccine and antiviral drug development. Many subtypes of HIV-1 have been characterized, but all are transmitted via the same routes and result in the same immunodeficiency.

SYMPTOMS, DIAGNOSIS, AND TREATMENT

Persons initially infected with HIV may develop an "acute retroviral syndrome" characterized by fever, lymph node enlargement, and flu-like symptoms. If symptoms are present, they clear spontaneously, but all infected persons, both with and without symptoms, remain infected and infectious to others indefinitely. The incubation period is highly variable, averaging about a decade, but ranging from a few months or years to possibly longer than two decades. When sufficient damage to the immune system has been sustained, measured either by laboratory cell counts of the Thelper cells or by onset of opportunistic infections, the patient is said to have AIDS. Common manifestations of HIV infection include tiredness, lymph node enlargement, fever, weight loss, and yeast infections of the mouth and vagina.

HIV infection is diagnosed by laboratory detection of evidence of infection, usually identification of HIV-specific antibodies in a blood, oral fluid, or urine specimen. AIDS can be diagnosed in HIV-infected persons in several ways, based on either laboratory evidence of immunodeficiency (lowered levels of CD4+ cells), or clinically by onset of any one or more of a specific list of opportunistic diseases. Opportunistic diseases are those that occur only, or most severely, in patients whose immune systems are impaired. The most common opportunistic diseases in AIDS patients are Pneumocystis carinii pneumonia, Kaposi's sarcoma, toxoplasmosis of the brain, tuberculosis and other mycobacterial infections, and severe herpes, cytomegalo virus, and yeast infections.

As of 2001, all of the more than seventeen antiviral drugs used to treat HIV infection act by interfering with one of the enzymes that HIV needs to complete its life cycle. No treatments result in a cure for HIV infection. The antiviral drugs prevent HIV from growing and further damaging the host's immune system. Thus, the goal of treatment is to preserve the patient's health. Patients must take several antiviral drugs daily. Research on more and better antiviral drugs, and on methods to reconstitute the impaired immune system, is ongoing. A key part of treatment is the prevention of opportunistic infections with specific vaccines and antibiotics.

PREVENTION

Prevention of HIV infections is deceptively simple: Refrain from having sexual contact and from sharing drug-injecting paraphernalia with anyone who is infected. However, the rapid and continuing global spread of HIV, despite its well-known and severe clinical consequences, points out how difficult it is to change risky sexual and drug-taking behaviors. Many successful educational and social interventions have been demonstrated, but sustaining them in large populations for long periods requires extensive resources and a strong public health commitment. For example, latex condoms effectively prevent sexual transmission of HIV, but making them available and educating infected persons or their sex partners to use them correctly and consistently has been accomplished only with extraordinary efforts in a few nations or settings. Some prevention efforts are considered controversial or are opposed by religious or other groups who interpret prevention efforts to reflect an acceptance of behaviors they do not condone on moral grounds.

The research effort to develop a vaccine to prevent HIV infection has been intense, but the biologic obstacles to success are immense and unprecedented. Because HIV permanently infects cells of the immune system, infection of a single cell results in lifelong infection for the host. Thus, a completely effective vaccine would need to prevent even a single cell from becoming infected. No such vaccine exists for any infection, so HIV will require a new vaccine paradigm. Possible lines of research include stimulating the immune system to detect and eliminate HIV-infected cells, or genetically transforming the HIV in an infected person so as to render it nonvirulent.

Further information on HIV and AIDS is widely available in many user-friendly and scholarly formats. The Internet is a rich source of information, with sites sponsored by public health agencies, such as the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (http://www.unaids.org) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (http://www.cdc.gov) particularly recommended. Several texts, popular books, and scholarly journals have been devoted exclusively to AIDS public health issues and scientific research. The first of December has been designated World AIDS Day, and many governments, schools, and organizations sponsor community and educational events to coincide with that date each year.

D. Peter Drotman

(see also: Behavioral Change; Condoms; Contagion; Epidemics; Prevention; Sexually Transmitted Diseases )

Bibliography

Feldman, E. A., and Bayer, R. (1999). Blood Feuds: AIDS, Blood, and the Politics of Medical Disaster. New York: Oxford University Press.

Garrett, L. (1994). The Coming Plague: Newly Emerging Diseases in a World Out of Balance. New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux.

Mann, J. M.; Tarantola, D.; and the Global AIDS Policy Coalition, eds. (1998). AIDS in the World II/Global Dimensions, Social Roots, and Responses. New York: Oxford University Press.

Shilts, R. (1987). And the Band Played On: Politics, People, and the AIDS Epidemic. New York: St. Martin's Press.

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Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV)

Human immunodeficiency virus (HIV)

The Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) belongs to a class of viruses known as the retroviruses . These viruses are known as RNA viruses because they have RNA as their basic genetic material instead of DNA . The retroviruses are unable to replicate outside of living host cells, because they contain only RNA. However, they have the enzyme reverse transcriptase that can make DNA from the RNA and allow them to integrate into the host cell genome. The retroviruses are composed of three subgroups, two of which are pathogenic to humans. They are the oncarnovirus subgroup and the lentivirus (meaning, slow virus) subgroup. The Human Immunodeficiency Virus, which belongs to the lentivirus subgroup, is further divided into two types based on the diseases they produce. The HIV-1 produces the acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS ), while the HIV-2 produces a similar disease that is at present, largely restricted to West Africa.

The genetic material of the HIV virus consists of two short strands of RNA about 9,200 nucleotides long, enclosed in an outer lipid envelope. A viral glycoprotein (gp120) is displayed on the surface of the envelope. This protein recognizes and binds to the CD4 receptor on T-helper cells. The HIV genome contains a long terminal repeat (LTR) and the gag, pol, env, and tax/rex genes. The LTR helps in the integration of the virus into the host cell DNA. The gag gene codes for the proteins that make up the outer core or capsid while the env gene codes for the envelope glycoprotein including the outer envelope glycoprotein (gp 120) and the transmembrane glycoprotein (gp141). The major proteins coded by the pol gene are the reverse transcriptase, protease, and the integrase. The tax/rex gene codes for certain factors that have a regulatory role.

The HIV infects cells that have the CD4 receptor molecule on their surface. In macrophages and cells lacking this molecule, an alternate receptor molecule (such as the Fc receptor, or the complement receptor site) may be used for entry of HIV. The immune cells such as the blood monocytes, macrophages, T cells , B cells , natural killer (NK) cells, dendritic cells, hematopoietic stem cells, etc are the primary targets of HIV infection.

After entering the body, the virus attaches itself by fusion to a cell with the appropriate CD4 receptor molecule. On gaining entry into the cell, the viral particle uncoats from its envelope and releases the RNA. The reverse transcriptase encoded by the pol gene, reverse transcribes the viral RNA into DNA, and the integrase enzyme (also coded by the pol gene) inserts the HIV proviral DNA into the genomic DNA of the host cell. The HIV provirus is replicated by the host cell and transcribed to produce new progeny RNA molecules. The infected host cells either release the new HIV virions by lysis, or the viruses can escape by surface budding. These go on to infect additional host cells.

The primary target of the HIV is the immune system itself, with a special affinity for CD4 (T-helper) cells. Following infection, there is a latent phase during which the viral replication continues actively, accompanied with a progressive destruction of the CD4 cells. During latency, there are enough immune cells remaining to provide an immune response and fight infections. Eventually, when a significant number of T cells are destroyed, and the rate of production of the cells cannot match the rate of destruction, there is a loss of both cell-mediated and humoral immunity . This failure of the immune system leads to the appearance of clinical AIDS. The patients generally die of secondary causes such as Kaposi's sarcoma (a rare form of cancer that occurs in HIV-infected individuals) or bacterial and fungal infections.

Primary HIV infection may go undetected in more than half the cases, because the symptoms produced are mild and they subside quickly. This is followed by a clinical latent period, which could last on an average 811 years. The latency period varies from person to person and depends on a variety of factors including the person's health status and life style. In cases of acute HIV infection, the most common symptoms are fever, swelling of the lymph glands, a red, diffuse rash all over the body, sore throat or upper respiratory infection, muscle ache, diarrhea, and headache. These symptoms subside in a couple of months. Within three months of infection, the body mounts an additional immune response to the virus, and detectable levels of antibodies are seen. Both humoral and cell-mediated immune responses play a role. There is a decline in the viral counts and the levels of CD4 T-helper cells increase. In rare cases, it may take as long as six months for the immune response to develop. Therefore, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) recommends testing for HIV at six months after the last possible exposure to the virus (through unprotected sex or sharing needles).

HIV is primarily spread as a sexually transmitted disease . However, one can also acquire the virus through either intravenous drug use or transfusions. The virus can be present in a variety of body fluids and secretions, but the presence of HIV in blood, and genital secretions, and to a lesser extent breast milk, is significant for the spread of HIV. In addition, HIV infection can be acquired as a congenital infection during birth or in infancy. Mothers with HIV infection can pass the virus either transplacentally at the time of delivery through the birth canal or through breast milk. The diagnosis of clinical AIDS often occurs because of the presence of rare diseases such as Kaposi's sarcoma, pneumonia , or other serious recurrent infections. The patient's lifestyle, and medical history could also provide clues. Laboratory diagnosis of the infection is based on serology , measuring the antibodies to HIV using ELISA . Positive results are further confirmed with another test known as a Western Blot. Together, the two tests are more than 99.9% accurate.

No vaccines are currently available to prevent infection by HIV. However, scientists and researchers the world over are working on making a vaccine to HIV and have some interesting leads. The drugs used to treat HIV fall into three categories: the nucleosides, non-nucleosides, and the protease inhibitors. The nucleoside and non-nucleoside inhibit the reverse transcriptase enzyme, while the third category of drugs inhibits the enzyme protease. These drugs are given in combinations of two or three to attack the HIV in different ways.

See also AIDS, recent advances in research and treatment; Antibody and antigen; Antiviral drugs; Immunity, active, passive and delayed; Immunity, cell mediated; Immunity, humoral regulation; Infection and resistance; Public health, current issues; T cells or T lymphocytes; Virology; Virus replication; Viruses and responses to viral infection

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HIV

HIV, human immunodeficiency virus, either of two closely related retroviruses that invade T-helper lymphocytes and are responsible for AIDS. There are two types of HIV: HIV-1 and HIV-2. HIV-1 is responsible for the vast majority of AIDS in the United States. HIV-2, seen more often in western Africa, has a slower course than HIV-1. There are many strains of both types and the virus mutates rapidly, a trait that has made it especially difficult for researchers to find an effective treatment or vaccine. In many cases, a person's immune system will fight off the invasion of HIV for many years, producing billions of CD4 cells daily, always trying to keep up with the HIV's mutations, before it succumbs and permits the well-known signs of AIDS to develop.

HIV is especially lethal because it attacks the very immune system cells (variously called T4, CD4, or T-helper lymphocytes) that would ordinarily fight off such a viral infection. Receptors on these cells appear to enable the viral RNA to enter the cell. As with all retroviruses, once the RNA is inside the cell, an enzyme called reverse transcriptase allows it to act as the template for its own RNA to DNA transcription. The resultant viral DNA inserts itself into a cell's DNA and is reproduced along with the cell and its daughters. In 2012 the Food and Drug Administration approved a pill that combines two antiretroviral drugs, tenofovir and emtricitabine, for use in preventing infection with HIV, and two years later the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention called for the drug combination to be prescribed to uninfected patients who are at risk for AIDS in an effort to reduce number of new HIV infections.

The exact origin of the virus in humans is unclear. Scientists surmise that it jumped from African chimpanzees, who harbor a similar strain called SIV (simian immunodeficiency virus), to humans via the butchering of meat or an animal bite. The first case documented in humans dates from 1959, but genetic analysis published in 2008 estimated that it originated some time between 1884 and 1924. A 2014 analysis suggested that the most widespread form of HIV-1 in humans originated in 1920s in what was then the Belgian Congo. The virus was isolated by Luc Montagnier of France's Pasteur Institute in 1983. It went through several name changes before the official name, human immunodeficiency virus, was agreed upon.

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human immunodeficiency virus

human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) Organism that causes acquired immune deficiency syndrome (AIDS). A retrovirus identified in 1983, HIV attacks the immune system, leaving the person unable to fight off infection. There are two distinct viruses: HIV-1, which has now spread worldwide; and HIV-2, which is concentrated almost entirely in West Africa. Both cause AIDS. There are three main means of transmission: from person to person by sexual contact; from mother to baby during birth; and by contact with contaminated blood or blood products (for instance, during transfusions or when drug-users share needles). People can carry the virus for many years before developing symptoms.

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HIV

HIV (human immunodeficiency virus) The retrovirus that causes AIDS in humans. It has a specific affinity for the helper T cells of its host, binding to CD4 antigens on the cell surface and thereby disabling these cells. The membrane envelope glycoproteins encasing the virus show great variability in their amino-acid sequences, hence the difficulty of preparing an effective AIDS vaccine. Two varieties (serovars) are known: HIV-1 and HIV-2. The latter, which is less virulent, is found chiefly in Africa. HIV is thought to have originated from chimpanzees in central Africa.

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HIV

HIV (human immunodeficiency virus) n. a retrovirus responsible for AIDS. HIV-1 the variety of HIV most common in Western countries. HIV-2 the variety of HIV most common in Africa. See also HTLV.
www.bodypositive.org.uk An HIV information website

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HIV

HIV • abbr. human immunodeficiency virus, a retrovirus that causes AIDS.

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HIV

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human immunodeficiency virus

human immunodeficiency virus n. see HIV.

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HIV

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"HIV." World Encyclopedia. . Encyclopedia.com. 20 Aug. 2017 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

"HIV." World Encyclopedia. . Encyclopedia.com. (August 20, 2017). http://www.encyclopedia.com/environment/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/hiv

"HIV." World Encyclopedia. . Retrieved August 20, 2017 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/environment/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/hiv

human immunodeficiency virus

human immunodeficiency virus See HIV.

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"human immunodeficiency virus." A Dictionary of Biology. . Encyclopedia.com. 20 Aug. 2017 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

"human immunodeficiency virus." A Dictionary of Biology. . Encyclopedia.com. (August 20, 2017). http://www.encyclopedia.com/science/dictionaries-thesauruses-pictures-and-press-releases/human-immunodeficiency-virus

"human immunodeficiency virus." A Dictionary of Biology. . Retrieved August 20, 2017 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/science/dictionaries-thesauruses-pictures-and-press-releases/human-immunodeficiency-virus

HIV

HIV human immunodeficiency virus (the cause of AIDS)

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"HIV." The Oxford Dictionary of Abbreviations. . Encyclopedia.com. 20 Aug. 2017 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

"HIV." The Oxford Dictionary of Abbreviations. . Encyclopedia.com. (August 20, 2017). http://www.encyclopedia.com/humanities/dictionaries-thesauruses-pictures-and-press-releases/hiv

"HIV." The Oxford Dictionary of Abbreviations. . Retrieved August 20, 2017 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/humanities/dictionaries-thesauruses-pictures-and-press-releases/hiv